Norse Shaman

Imagine stepping into the mystical world of the ancient Norse, where powerful shamans possessed a unique connection to the spirits of nature and the unseen realms. In this captivating article, we explore the intriguing realm of the Norse Shaman, delving into their mystical practices, their deep connection to the land and the spirits, and the powerful rituals they performed to heal, protect and guide their communities. Get ready to embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of the Norse Shaman and discover the wisdom and magic that lies within their ancient traditions.

Norse Shaman


Norse Shamanism, also known as Seiðr, is a ancient spiritual practice rooted in Norse mythology and folklore. The Norse shamans, commonly referred to as volvas, played a vital role in their society as intermediaries between the human world and the realm of spirits. They were highly respected individuals who possessed deep knowledge of the natural world, healing techniques, divination practices, and the ability to connect with spirits.

Historical Background

The practice of Norse Shamanism dates back to the pre-Christian era, during the time when the Vikings roamed the lands of Scandinavia. The Norse shamans were believed to be chosen by the gods and goddesses themselves, guided by spirits and familiar creatures. They were revered for their wisdom, intuition, and ability to travel between realms.

Beliefs and Practices

Norse shamans believed in a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each with their own distinct characteristics and powers. They held a deep reverence for nature and believed that everything in the world, from rocks to trees to animals, possessed a spirit. They practiced rituals, ceremonies, and sacred sacrifices to honor and communicate with these deities and spirits.

Role in Society

In Norse society, the role of the shaman was multifaceted. They served as healers, providing physical and spiritual guidance to those in need. They acted as diviners, offering insights and prophecies through various methods such as rune casting and trance states. Additionally, they acted as spiritual leaders, conducting rituals and ceremonies to ensure the well-being and prosperity of the community as a whole.

Training and Initiation


Becoming a Norse shaman required a lengthy period of apprenticeship. Young individuals with potential were chosen by experienced shamans to undergo intensive training and initiation ceremonies. The apprentices learned the lore, practices, and rituals of the shamans, gradually acquiring the necessary skills to connect with spirits and perform their duties.

Mental and Physical Preparation

The training of a Norse shaman involved rigorous mental and physical preparation. They had to develop their ability to enter altered states of consciousness through meditation, visualization, and breath control. Physical stamina was crucial as shamans often engaged in long journeys, sacred dances, and rituals accompanied by drumming and chanting.

Rituals and Ceremonies

Rituals and ceremonies played a central role in the training and initiation of Norse shamans. These sacred rites allowed the apprentices to connect with the spirit realm, guided by experienced shamans. Through these rituals, the apprentices learned how to commune with gods, goddesses, and spirits, and gain their support and wisdom.

Connection with Spirits

Norse Pantheon

Norse shamans worshiped a pantheon of gods and goddesses, including Odin, Thor, Freya, and Loki. These deities were seen as powerful allies and sources of knowledge and strength. Shamans would invoke these gods and goddesses to seek their guidance and blessings in their spiritual work and rituals.

Familiar Spirits

Familiar spirits played a significant role in Norse shamanism. These spirits, often taking the form of animals, served as companions and guides for the shamans. It was believed that these spirits shared their wisdom and protected the shamans during their journeys into the spirit realm.

Elemental Spirits

Norse shamans recognized the presence and significance of elemental spirits such as land spirits, water spirits, and forest spirits. They believed that these spirits controlled the natural forces and landscapes, and sought to maintain a harmonious relationship with them. Shamans would communicate with these spirits to ensure the balance and well-being of their communities.

Divination and Prophecy


The Norse shamans were skilled in the use of runes, ancient symbols with mystical properties. They would cast or draw runes to gain insight into the past, present, and future. The interpretation of the runes allowed the shamans to offer guidance and predictions to individuals and communities, helping them navigate their lives and make informed decisions.


Seiðr was a form of Norse magic and divination practiced by the volvas. It involved entering trance-like states to communicate with spirits, gather information, and receive visions. The shamans would use various tools such as staffs, drums, and chants to aid them in their journey and maintain a connection with the spirit realm.

Trance States

Trance states were an integral part of Norse shamanic practices. Shamans would enter altered states of consciousness through meditation, chanting, and drumming. In these trance states, they would communicate with spirits, receive messages, and gain spiritual insights. Trance journeys allowed the shamans to explore different realms and bring back knowledge and healing to their communities.

Healing and Spiritual Guidance


Norse shamans had extensive knowledge of herbalism and healing plants. They would gather and prepare herbs to create potions, ointments, and infusions for various ailments. Additionally, they would perform rituals and ceremonies to cleanse and restore balance to individuals suffering from physical or spiritual afflictions.

Soul Retrieval

Soul retrieval was a vital aspect of Norse shamanic healing. The shamans believed that a fragment of a person’s soul could become lost or stolen, leading to illness and spiritual imbalance. Through rituals and ceremonies, the shamans would journey to the spirit realm to retrieve these fragmented souls, bringing wholeness and healing to the individuals.


Norse shamans provided spiritual guidance and counseling to members of their community. They were sought after for their wisdom, compassion, and ability to offer clarity in times of difficulty. The shamans would listen attentively, offer advice, and assist individuals in finding their purpose and path in life.

Shamanic Tools and Symbolism

Drumming and Chanting

Drumming and chanting were essential tools in Norse shamanic practices. The rhythmic beats of the drum and the repetitive chants helped induce altered states of consciousness, allowing the shamans to connect with spirits and enter trance states. These methods created a sacred atmosphere and aided in the shamans’ communication with the spirit realm.

Seidr Staff

The seidr staff was a powerful symbol and tool used by Norse shamans. It represented their connection to the divine and the spirit realm. The staff was often intricately carved and decorated, signifying the shaman’s authority and role as a spiritual intermediary. It was used in rituals, ceremonies, and trance journeys to aid in channeling energy and power.

Sacrificial Offerings

Sacrificial offerings played a significant role in Norse shamanic rituals. To gain the favor and support of the gods and goddesses, shamans would offer animals, crops, or valuable possessions as a token of gratitude or as a request for assistance. These offerings symbolized the shaman’s willingness to give and establish a reciprocal relationship with the spirits.

Mythology and Folklore


Volva was the term used to refer to female practitioners of Norse shamanism. They were highly respected and held positions of great influence in their communities. Volvas were seen as seers, healers, and carriers of sacred knowledge. They were sought after for their abilities to communicate with gods, decipher omens, and provide spiritual guidance.


Odr, meaning “ecstasy” or “frenzy,” was a concept closely associated with Norse shamanism. This state of intense emotion and altered consciousness was believed to be a means of connecting with the divine and gaining spiritual insights. Odr was often induced through ritualistic practices such as drumming, chanting, and ecstatic dancing.

Magical Beings

Norse mythology was rich with magical beings such as elves, dwarves, and giants. These creatures played a significant role in Norse shamanism, being seen as intermediaries between the human world and the realm of spirits. Norse shamans would interact with these beings, seeking their aid in rituals, healing, and divination.

Rituals and Ceremonies


Blót was a central ritual in Norse shamanism. It involved offering sacrifices, usually animals or crops, to the gods and spirits. These rituals were conducted to gain the favor and blessings of the deities, seek guidance and protection, and maintain a harmonious relationship between humans and the divine.


Sumble was a ritualistic drinking ceremony practiced by Norse shamans. Participants would gather and consecrate a sacred drinking horn, passing it around to make toasts and share stories. This ceremony served as a means of establishing social bonds, honoring ancestors, and invoking the presence of gods and spirits.

Forn Sidr

Forn Sidr, also known as “old way” or “ancient customs,” referred to the traditional religious practices of Norse society. Norse shamans played a crucial role in maintaining and conducting these rituals and ceremonies. Forn Sidr encompassed various practices, such as honoring the land spirits, invoking the gods, and seeking spiritual insights.

Decline and Revival


With the advent of Christianity in Scandinavia, Norse shamanism faced significant challenges. The new religion condemned the practices and beliefs of the shamans, branding them as pagan and heretical. Many shamans were persecuted, and their knowledge and rituals began to fade from mainstream society.

Modern Revival

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Norse shamanism. Modern practitioners have sought to revive the ancient practices and adapt them to contemporary contexts. Through research, experimentation, and personal experiences, individuals have started reclaiming Norse shamanic traditions and integrating them into their spiritual journeys.

Contemporary Practices

Contemporary Norse shamans draw inspiration from historical texts, archaeological findings, and personal experiences to develop their own unique practices. They engage in trance journeys, divination rituals, and healing ceremonies, seeking to establish a profound connection with the Norse gods, honor the land and spirits, and maintain a harmonious balance within themselves and the world around them.

Influence on Modern Paganism


Norse shamanism has heavily influenced the development of neo-shamanic practices. Many modern shamans draw inspiration from the ancient Norse traditions, incorporating their rituals, beliefs, and techniques into their own spiritual work. This blending of ancient and contemporary practices has led to a unique and evolving form of Norse-influenced shamanism.


Heathenry, also known as Germanic paganism, is a modern religious movement that seeks to revive and reconstruct the ancient Germanic and Norse beliefs. Norse shamanism has played a significant role in the development of heathenry, with practitioners incorporating the shamanic practices, rituals, and worldview into their faith.

Runic Divination

Runic divination, using the ancient Norse runic alphabet, has become a popular form of divination in modern pagan and shamanic practices. The runes are used to gain insight, guidance, and predictions, much like the Norse shamans did in ancient times. The use of runic divination has been adapted and expanded upon by contemporary practitioners, incorporating their own interpretations and methods.

In conclusion, Norse shamanism was a complex and deeply spiritual practice that played a vital role in the Norse society. The shamans, with their deep connection to the gods, goddesses, and spirits, acted as healers, diviners, and spiritual guides. Though the traditions faced decline and persecution with the rise of Christianity, they are now experiencing a revival, inspiring and influencing modern practitioners in their quest for spiritual connection and wisdom.

Scroll to Top